GV libraries forced to reduce hours due to COVID-19


GVL / Annabelle Robinson

Gillian Hanton, Staff Writer

The Mary Idema Pew Library on Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus and Steelcase Library on GVSU’s Grand Rapids campus have are central fixtures in the lives of students. 

Despite continuing to be students’ go-to place for countless study sessions, meetings and exam weeks, the libraries are facing an ongoing challenge: adjusting to hardships presented by COVID-19. 

Due to the recent rise in the COVID-19 cases across campus and staffing shortages, library administration has had no choice but to reduce their hours.

The change in COVID-19 Alert Level at the beginning of the semester from Alert Level 2 to a modified Alert Level 3 considerably affected operations on the Allendale and Pew campuses. 

According to GVSU’s Alert Level 3 policy, access to on-campus resources should be “significantly reduced.” This designation encourages taking caution when attending in-person classes, planning extracurricular activities and utilizing university facilities. 

However, Brian Merry, Manager of Operations and User Services, said the library staff have been working to the best of their ability to follow safety regulations while also accommodating the needs of students.

“As we’ve had ebbs and flows because of the pandemic, we’ve tried the best we can to minimize the negative impact on students,” Merry said, “We studied the billing usage data across all locations during the fall semester, and we’ve made the changes to hours where it was less busy.”

Despite the efforts of library administration, the reduction in operating hours has still had an impact on GVSU students. 

Junior Isabelle Hoffman said she has had to modify her study schedule since the adjustment occurred.

“The change in library hours has affected me because I like to start my homework really early Sunday mornings,” Hoffman said. “Since the library doesn’t open until noon that day, I have to wait until opening.”

In addition to the decrease in hours, the libraries are also facing staffing shortages. However, this is not an isolated occurrence at GVSU. 

Libraries across the country are facing similar issues with finding staff to maintain regular hours of operation. 

COVID-19 related quarantine periods have caused employees to call off work, resulting in thousands of libraries struggling to keep their doors open. 

The Grand Rapids Public Library announced Jan. 19 that they would begin closing early due to staffing shortages caused by COVID-19 related incidents. The change in hours will affect all locations.

Merry suggested that students can participate in productive environments at other campus locations. 

“Right next door at the Kirkhof Center there are some underutilized spaces,” Merry said. “There are study spaces which are open until midnight seven days a week.”

Although relocation may be a difficult adjustment for adamant library-goers, they can rest assured that library services are available virtually. 

“We still offer our full suite of services when we’re open and even times when we’re not open,” Merry said. “We have library collections and support tools that are available 24/7 on our website.”

The return to regular library hours will occur as COVID-19 Alert Levels decline.

For more information on library hours and daily services, students can visit their website.